Tag Archives: survivor

Project Unbreakable: Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

Hello Recovery Writers! It’s been a little while since I’ve posted here on the blog, but a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to stumble across an amazing project I just had to share with you.

A young photographer named Grace Brown has begun a web site called Project Unbreakable, where she uses her camera skills to help survivors of sexual violence reclaim their voices. Survivors write the words that their attackers said to them on posters, and Grace photographs them holding those posters. Yvonne Moss, a survivor and advocate who works with the project, describes it as “a way for victims to take the power back of the words that were once used against them.” As soon as I saw Project Unbreakable, I knew I wanted to feature it on WfR. What Grace is doing with her photography is exactly what Writing for Recovery is all about: Using words to heal, empower, educate, and give other survivors hope.

I am honored to participate in this wonderful project; the photo you see above is my contribution. When I was 16 I was raped by a stranger. These are the words he said to me: Shhh….I won’t hurt you if you shut up and don’t move. I’m pretty sure that up until now my therapist is the only one who knew that. Now it’s going public, and that is just fine with me. It was a pretty horrible thing to hear, and I’m hoping that other people will be horrified by those words too. Perhaps horrified enough to do something.

If you are reading this and have been a victim of sexual violence, please consider submitting a photo to Project Unbreakable at grace@50extraordinarywomen.com.

Update: To view my contribution on the Project Unbreakable website, please click here.


Outcry: “Honorable Woman”

So, after four weeks, we have come to the final poem in our series. The first six poems I posted dealt specifically with rape, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse from a victim’s point of view, recognizing the difficulties people who endure these crimes suffer with as victims. This week I wanted to change that, so I posted the piece about letting go of my past with my father; a poem dealing with the issue as a survivor.

For the last piece, I don’t want to be either. This poem is not about being a victim, it is not about being a survivor- it’s about being a person. A woman, specifically. When I wrote this poem, it was more of a wish list than anything else. These are all qualities I aspire to have, qualities that I try to live up to everyday, qualities I see in others around me that I admire. This is the woman I want to be, beyond the victim, beyond the survivor, beyond who my trauma made me. This is the woman I made, and no one can take her away from me because I am her.

I hope someday every single one of you gets to know the power of that.

(Note: I mostly talk about women and female victims here because they are the majority of victims and because I am female. I of course recognize that men are raped and abused and I don’t want anyone to feel ignored or disenfranchised; I know you are there and I am fighting for you too!)

Thank you to everyone who read these poems, whether just one or the whole series. It means so much to be able to share these pieces and help put a voice behind the silence of sexually violent crimes.

6/17/10

Honorable Woman

I am an honorable woman

I live in an authentic way

Honesty suits me well

You can trust that I mean what I say

I am an honorable woman

I know when to walk away

To not take less than I deserve

If it’s not right than I won’t stay

I am an honorable woman

I am loyal to those close to my heart

Love is what gives life its meaning

Even when we are apart

I am an honorable woman

I hold myself in respect

I treat others how I wish to be treated

I never abuse or neglect

I am an honorable woman

I’m accountable for my actions

I’m responsible for my part

Of my personal interactions

I am an honorable woman

I stand up for what I believe

I want to change the world

And I don’t think that is naive

I am an honorable woman

I have faith that things will work out

I believe that God’s on my side

Even when I am in doubt

I am an honorable woman

I work as hard as I can

To maintain the standards I hold

I will not be controlled by a man

I am an honorable woman

I have a powerful voice

I use it without holding back

To proclaim my freedom of choice

I am an honorable woman

My love is both tender and fierce

I will love through pain and desire

I will love through laughter and tears

I am an honorable woman

Who continues to learn and to grow

I am an honorable woman

And should be regarded as so

© Sarah Henderson 2010